PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL announced on Wednesday that the Board of Governors has approved the Expansion Membership application of the San Francisco Bulls for admission to the ECHL.

San Francisco is scheduled to begin play in October 2012 when the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League will celebrate its 25th season, making it the third-longest tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League.

The San Francisco ownership group is by Pat Curcio and his wife Elouise, who have relocated to San Francisco from Salt Lake City. Curcio will serve as president, general manager and head coach for the Bulls. The team will play its home games at the Cow Palace, located less than 10 miles from downtown San Francisco.

The Cow Palace opened in 1941 and has welcomed more than 50 million visitors through its doors. The arena, which has a capacity for hockey of approximately 11,000, was home to the San Jose Sharks during their first two seasons in the National Hockey League from 1991-93 and also was home to the San Francisco Spiders of the International Hockey League in 1995-96.

“San Francisco is a good addition to our Western Conference and a logical rival for our California teams in particular,” said ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna. “We look forward to working with Pat as he assembles his front office team and works toward the October 2012 opening at the iconic Cow Palace.”

“We are so excited and proud to provide professional hockey to the San Francisco Bay area,” said Curcio. “The on-ice product will be very entertaining and the Cow Palace is the perfect venue for our team.”

“The Cow Palace is excited to host high quality, professional ice hockey again,” said Cow Palace CEO Joe Barkett. “It is an iconic venue that is well suited for an enjoyable and convenient fan experience. The San Francisco Bulls will offer great family entertainment for the San Francisco Bay area.”